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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Turkey: Charges Against Novelist Pamuk A Mistake? Turkey's foreign minister acknowledged yesterday that charges brought against Orhan Pamuk, the country's best-known novelist, have tarnished Turkey's image, and said laws that limit freedom of expression may be changed. The Guardian (UK) 12/29/05

What New York Means To the Arts How big does New York loom on America's creative landscape? A new report takes some measures: "No other place in the U.S. even comes close to matching the city’s creative assets. In fact, 8.3 percent of all creative sector workers in the U.S. are based in New York. The city is home to over a third of all the country’s actors and roughly 27 percent of the nation’s fashion designers,12 percent of film editors,10 percent of set designers, 9 percent of graphic designers, 8 percent of architects and 7 percent of fine artists." Center for an Urban Future 12/05 (pdf)

Technology As Liberal Arts Liberator "Many students and faculty believe that there is no place for technology in small liberal arts colleges, a belief they cherish and are loathe to let go of. But technology doesn’t have to be the great invader, the destructor of the special nature of a liberal arts college education. It can, in fact, make that education better and more sustainable." InsideHigherEd 12/29/05

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Rats Die In The Name Of Art An anti-animal cruelty group in Northern Ireland is up in arms over the suffocation of 90 white rats in a supposed piece of performance art in Belfast, and a decision by authorities not to prosecute the perpetrator. "Blood stains indicated that the animals had turned on each other after being dropped [into a see-through but airtight case.] The design made escape impossible." Prosecutors announced this week that they lacked sufficient evidence for a prosecution. Belfast Telegraph 12/28/05

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

New UK Laws Impose Hardship On Performers New performer licensing laws in the UK have made things difficult for small acts. "When the culture secretary, Tessa Jowell, launched the licensing laws on November 24, the media focused almost exclusively on the new 24-hour opening rules and the fears of a wave of binge drinking. Hardly anyone reported that at the same time the regulations required every small-scale entertainer, from folk musicians to street artists to charity carollers, to obtain a public entertainment licence before putting on a paid-for performance." The Guardian (UK) 12/27/05

France Votes To Legalize File-Sharing "A French government crackdown on digital piracy has backfired because lawmakers rebelled by endorsing amendments to legalize the online sharing of music and movies instead of punishing it. The vote last week by members of France's lower house dealt a setback to Culture Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, who introduced the draft legislation... Under the original proposals, those caught pirating copy-protected material would have faced $360,000 in fines and up to three years in jail. An 11th-hour government offer to give illegal downloaders two warnings prior to prosecution was not enough to stem the rebellion. Instead, the amendments voted would legalize file-sharing by anyone paying a monthly royalties duty estimated at $8.50." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (AP) 12/27/05

Rethinking Cleveland's Arts District "University Circle, Cleveland's cultural and educational district, is a classic underachiever. It's like a brilliant but nerdy student who never lives up to his potential, socially or academically... The district holds a magnificent collection of great institutions, from Case Western Reserve University to the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Orchestra and University Hospitals... Nevertheless, the place looks and feels dead most of the time. It is marred by wide, heavily trafficked streets; by inwardly oriented buildings that fail to animate their surroundings; and by a paucity of housing, retail shops and restaurants." Still, the corporation that made University Circle what it is has recognized that a change is necessary, and is taking steps to make the entertainment district more... well, entertaining. The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 12/27/05

Sydney Festival Cuts Ticket Prices The Sydney Festival has slashed its average ticket price by 25% and set aside a certain number of tickets to be sold for $25, regardless of the pricing of other tickets for the event. This year's edition of Australia's largest summer festival, which begins in early January, will feature Elvis Costello performing with the Sydney Symphony, French ballerina Sylvie Guillem, and a new staging of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. So far, the ticket discount appears to be paying dividends: sales are 60% ahead of last year. Sydney Morning Herald 12/28/05

Monday, December 26, 2005

Conscience Of the Getty Ronald L. Olson is charged by the Getty Trust with investigating how the organization does business. "In all likelihood, the essence of our investigation is going to be made public at some point. As I see this assignment that the special committee has, it's all about enhancing, reaffirming, some would say rebuilding, the integrity of the Getty. And how do you do that? Very often, sunlight is an important part of it." Los Angeles Times 12/26/05

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Christmas In All Its Forms "Whatever non-Christian aspect of Christmas you treasure (maybe it’s your mom’s shortbread), you needn’t feel guilty. Even though this is the time of year when many people say our society has lost sight of the true meaning of the season, there’s no reason you shouldn’t enjoy all of the magnificent secular infrastructure that now surrounds Christmas. It’s too good to pass up." London Free Press 12/22/05

Africa Ponders Cultural Policy African ministers of culture met in Kenya this week to talk about the need for cultural policy. "The meeting with the theme Culture, Integration and African Renaissance' was quite relevant at a time when the impact of the globalisation on the African continent and its culture can no longer be ignored. This was therefore a watershed conference that gave direction to the member states of the African Union on the need to curve out common approaches to cultural matters within the international cultural forum." Kenya Times 12/22/05

What The Kimmel Needs Philadelphia's Kimmel Center has a debt of $30 million that is plaguing its finances. Peter Dobrin suggests looking at the things that could be right with Kimmel. "I'm not so much advocating a government or philanthropic bailout as I am making the case that the Kimmel today is unfinished - as surely incomplete as it would be if the glass dome were never fully glazed. Without proper endowment and a financial structure that allows the contents of the building - the art itself - to flourish, we will never know whether our huge civic effort was worth the work. Let's finish the Kimmel. The building is done. Now it's time to finish building the institution." Philadelphia Inquirer 12/21/05

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Getty Trust Put On Probation "The Council on Foundations, the main industry group for the nation's nonprofits, said Tuesday that it has placed the J. Paul Getty Trust on probation for 60 days after the trust failed to turn over all the information requested for an investigation into its financial practices." Los Angeles Times 12/21/05

A Guide For Everything, Anytime "In the digital age, everyone's a tour guide. Professionals and amateurs alike want to show you around neighborhoods, museums and historic sites around the world. Whether you download them to your Nano, connect via cell phone or load a CD into your Discman, the experience is the same: Hit Play or the Call button at a designated spot, go where you're told and allow a local expert to turn your walk into a narrated tour." Washington Post 12/21/05

Swed: A Theory About Performance In Performances Music critic Mark Swed knows all the caveats about which performances to avoid: "Opening night is a glorified dress rehearsal, so avoid it. Everything comes together about the middle of the run. By the end, the performers are starting to get a bit bored, and it's best, once more, to stay away. Oh, and matinees are never as inspired as evening events." But he's got a new theory: "A performance that begins with proper commitment will likely just keep getting better. One that starts out cynically or inherently weak will tend, like a small crack in a windshield, to get only worse." Los Angeles Times 12/21/05

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Why Is Scotland Neglecting The Arts? It was a rough year for the arts in Scotland, and Duncan MacMillan says it didn't have to be that way. "Since devolution public funding of the arts has increased, but by considerably less than it has in the same period in England. So words and deeds don't match and there is ground to be made up before any new dispensation can even begin." More disturbing is the seeming indifference of the Scottish executive to the problem, and the unwillingness of politicians to confront the atrophy of treasured Scottish institutions. The Scotsman (UK) 12/20/05

Tax & Spend, Or Tax & Tax? A proposed entertainment tax in Toronto has bar, restaurant, and theatre owners spitting nails over what they say is yet another assault by the Ontario government on industries that are only marginally profitable to begin with. Canadian businesses already pay hefty (by American standards) taxes on items such as tickets and hotel charges, in addition to sales taxes imposed by both provincial and city governments. Toronto's city council says the purpose of the new tax would be to encourage cultural development, and it plans to set up special "tax-incentive zones" that would offer property tax breaks to cultural institutions. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 12/20/05

Monday, December 19, 2005

Reacting To Disaster With Art "Ever since the Dec. 26, 2004, Indian Ocean tsunami that left at least 216,000 people dead or missing, artists from around the world have tried to capture the epic scale of the horrific event... The Thai Culture Ministry organized an exhibit in October in the popular tourist resort of Phuket, where many people lost their lives in the waves, to help make tsunami art more accessible to the public. About 30 artists showed their sculptures, installations and paintings." Chicago Tribune 12/19/05

Sunday, December 18, 2005

What Have We Learned? It's been an eventful year for the arts in Southern California, from the turmoil at the Getty to LACMA's difficult search for a new leader to fiscal uncertainty at L.A. Opera and the Center Theater Group. In fact, L.A. culture in 2005 could serve as a fairly handy set of life rules for arts administrators. Los Angeles Times 12/18/05

Non-Profits Rack Up Revenue in Minny The arts economy may still be uncertain nationally, but in Minnesota, non-profit groups including major arts organizations are thriving, according to year-end numbers. "A slew of completed, or nearly completed, building projects from organizations in nearly every category underscores the sector's health and vitality... Overall revenue rose 11.8 percent to $29.4 billion in 2004 from $26.3 billion in 2003." Minneapolis Star Tribune 12/18/05

Dallas PAC Fundraising Ahead of Schedule Major bucks are flowing in Dallas, where the foundation set up to raise $275 million over nine years for the construction of a new performing arts center has passed the $200 million mark well ahead of schedule. The foundation also announced that less than 5% of the funds raised have been used to support the fundraising operation, an unusually small percentage. The foundation's next goal is to raise $30 million in the next year by offering naming opportunities within the center. Dallas Morning News 12/18/05

Is New York Losing Its Stranglehold On American Culture? The unthinkable is occurring. New York City, the center of the cultural universe (and if you don't believe it, just ask a New Yorker), is losing its ability to attract and retain what has come to be called 'the creative class.' "Skyrocketing prices on housing and professional space have driven many artists out of the very neighborhoods they helped to pioneer, and other cities, including Philadelphia and Minneapolis, have been very aggressive at luring artists their way with marketing campaigns and housing incentives." The New York Times 12/18/05

KC Arts: Where's The Buzz? Kansas City has a thriving performing arts scene, but residents could be excused for failing to notice that fact. "The little-discussed truth is that in Kansas City, the performing arts often remain a slumbering giant. Their head counts number in the hundreds of thousands annually, and their concentration of world-class talent, both imported and residing locally, is way out of scale to our city’s population... But somehow the message is not yet getting across, for reasons not easily explained. A buzz doesn’t happen overnight. But every group large and small is responsible for its part. And the time is now to start." Kansas City Star 12/18/05

Friday, December 16, 2005

I Got My Degree At... Wikiversity? Members of the Wikipedia community are proposing the creation of a Wikiversity. "It's not clear exactly how extensive Wikiversity would be. Some think it should serve only as a repository for educational materials; others think it should also play host to online courses; and still others want it to offer degrees." Chronicle of Higher Education 12/16/05

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Freeman Says No To Black History Month Actor Morgan Freeman says the concept of a month dedicated to black history is "ridiculous." "You're going to relegate my history to a month?" the 68-year-old actor says in an interview on CBS' "60 Minutes" to air Sunday"I don't want a black history month. Black history is American history."
Yahoo! (AP) 12/15/05

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Kimmel's Budget Woes Philadelphia's Kimmel Center has serious money woes. "Four years after opening as Philadelphia's answer to Lincoln Center, the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts is still posting persistent deficits and is looking at a number of moneymaking ventures - from buying parking lots to stripping the front of its building with electronic advertising." Philadelphia Inquirer 12/14/05

London's Depressing Arts Governors "There's a certain type of arts board-er who seems depressingly prevalent at the moment. He (usually he) has made a fortune in the City. He genuinely loves the arts. But he regards arts administrators as a bit amateurish and thinks the fact that he's run a bank qualifies him to "know best" about running a theatre (though no one would think of putting Nicholas Hytner, say, on the board of a listed company). He may harbour frustrated artistic ambitions. He likes the idea of being invited to interesting parties, or getting a knighthood. It's time for this attitude to be rooted out once and for all." The Guardian (UK) 12/14/05

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Ground Zero And Culture? Maybe They're Incompatible Is there still a chance that some cultural vision will emerge for the site of the World Trade Center? "Given the intense emotions associated with the 9/11 terrorist attacks, some panelists suggested that the competing visions for the 16-acre site - memorial, business hub, neighborhood gathering place - were ultimately incompatible." The new York Times 12/14/05

New York's Cultural Elite? New York Magazine critics have made their lists... New York Magazine 12/12/05

In Charlotte - Library And Children's Theatre Combine The city of Charlotte's Public Libray and its Children's Theatre decided to collaborate on a new home. "Occupying a city block in 'Uptown Charlotte'—the growing cultural hub of the city—this freestanding, 102,000-square-foot, two-month-old building is radical for a number of reasons. For one thing, when library and theater leaders agreed to create a joint-use facility, instead of just building a structure that would house both institutions side by side, they took a far riskier step—creating a daringly original space with its own identity and, eventually, its own life." School Library Journal 12/01/05

Monday, December 12, 2005

John Tusa's Case For Why Arts Matter "The arts matter because they are local and relevant to the needs and wishes of local people. They help citizens to express their needs and to clothe them in memorable forms. They offer a way of expressing ideas and wishes that ordinary politics do not allow. The arts regenerate the rundown and rehabilitate the neglected. Arts buildings lift the spirits, create symbols that people identify with, and give identity to places that may not have one. Where the arts start, jobs follow. Anywhere that neglects the arts shortchanges its people." The Guardian (UK) 12/13/05

More On Those Sex-Obsessed Artists "Promiscuous Picasso, Lord Byron the philanderer, Dylan Thomas the boozy womaniser: these were not simply bonking Bohemians, it seems, but artists doing what their genes told them to do. According to the researchers the greater the artistic endeavour, the larger the sexual appetites. (There are some obvious exceptions to this rule: Julio Iglesias once boasted that he had had sex with 3,000 women, but has never yet sung a decent song.) Artists have more sex, of course, because that is what they are expected to do. As rule breakers, they are assumed to act on impulse, unconstrained by the mores that apply to the rest of society." The Times (UK) 12/02/05

Boston's New Arsenal Arts Center Struggles "Three months after its grand opening gala, the $7.5 million Arsenal Center for the Arts in Boston is struggling to book its new space and facing the resignations of two top officials. The Arsenal Center for the Arts serves as the home for New Repertory Theatre and the Watertown Children's Theatre and also contains spaces for art shows, classes, and dance performances."

Boston Globe 12/09/05

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Computers Are Smarter Than Humans "The latest evidence comes from Bilbao, Spain. where another tournament pitting world-class grandmasters against state-of-the-art computers ended in a semi-rout. The machines won five games, drew six and lost only once against the likes of Ruslan Ponomariev, Alexander Khalifman and Rustam Kasimdzhanov." New York Post 12/11/05

New Jersey - Too many Performing Arts Centers? Some say there aren't enough audiences and artists to support the 45 arts centers already in operation in New Jersey. Still others point to the competitive fund-raising climate and worry if there are enough donors and dollars to support both the new and existing venues. people think the arts are this great economic engine for your community, and they can be. But can they all be?"
Newark Star-Ledger 12/11/05

An Impending Jobs Crisis? "Today, America's work force is divided into three parts: about 25 percent are the 'smart people' who are educated and also have special career skills; another 25 percent are the 'walking dead,' victims of mergers or technological change and [who] need to acquire new skills in order to change jobs or even careers... and up to 50 percent are the 'techno-peasants,' poorly educated adults with few if any special career skills." Philadelphia Inquirer 12/11/05

How MySpace Is Transforming The Arts Marketing Experience "MySpace pulls it all together. It's where, for free, you can make your own Web page and direct people to it. Start your own blog. There's instant messaging and music downloads. It's spam-free for the moment, packed with music and comedy, growing by 4 million people a month and easy to use. It's that huge audience, primarily teens and young adults, that's pushing the latest revolution in the music industry. More than 550,000 musicians have MySpace pages, with the ability to get heard, play gigs and make a living without radio, TV or even having a CD in stores. Previously unknown bands, comedians and other entertainers now take their case directly to fans." Rocky Mountain News 12/10/05

Thursday, December 8, 2005

MacDowell Colony's Non-Profit Status Challenged "At stake is a $50,000 tax bill — a portion of the colony's total tax bill on its 450-acre compound — and MacDowell's status as a tax-exempt organization. That status, which the colony has had since it was founded in 1907 as a community of artists, has long been affirmed by the town's selectmen. The town recently changed its mind on that score, however." PND News 12/08/05

Smithsonian's Shameless Cash Grab Did the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum sell its soul to the devil this week with the announcement that it would screen the latest Harry Potter flick in its IMAX theater? "The screening decision had nothing to do with education, or enlightenment, or any of the other grand ideals public museums have always been built around... no one is even pretending that this is about anything other than getting as much cash as possible, as quickly as possible." Washington Post 12/08/05

SPAC Starts To Dig Itself Out Upstate New York's Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC), attempting to dig out from years of questionable management and a wave of awful publicity, has announced that it will eliminate its $3 million debt using funds from its endowment. The organization, which plays host to a popular summer festival featuring the Philadelphia Orchestra and New York City Ballet, also says that it will have a balanced budget for 2005, its first black ink in 15 years. SPAC came under heavy fire for its management practices earlier this year in an independent report that led to the resignation of the center's chief executive and much of its board. The Saratogian (NY) 12/08/05

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Miami Reinvents As Capital Of Culture "After the money, the clubs, the drugs, the beaches, the models, the art deco, the swanky hotels and the TV series, Miami has got the culture. Last weekend, the city hosted Art Basel Miami Beach (ABMB), the largest art fair in the Americas, welcoming 195 galleries from all over the world, and following on the heels of the Miami International Book Fair, the largest in the US." The Guardian (UK) 12/07/05

Cleveland Arts Prize Eyes A Comeback "The Cleveland Arts Prize took a powder and is coming back strong. Or so the organization hopes: After a year's hiatus in which leaders rethought the award's mission and approach, the 45-year-old prize will return in 2006 with an emphasis on emerging artists and public input... Created in 1960 as a project of the Women's Club of Cleveland and now an independent nonprofit organization, the prize has for decades recognized the achievements of established, often renowned, Northeast Ohio artists and arts leaders... Established artists will continue to be saluted with two prizes of $2,500 each. But the organization's largest award now will be a $5,000 prize for an emerging Northeast Ohio artist." The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 12/07/05

Displaced NO Musicians To Get Their Own Village "City officials and artists who call New Orleans home announced Tuesday that they would team with Habitat for Humanity to build a village for musicians chased from their homes by Hurricane Katrina. The alliance, which includes the Marsalis family and Harry Connick Jr., will use $1 million in seed money generated by two recent concerts in New York to launch the development. Plans call for as many as 200 homes surrounding a cultural center named for Ellis Marsalis — a patriarch of New Orleans jazz and the father of three accomplished musicians: saxophonist Branford, trumpeter Wynton and trombonist Delfeayo." Los Angeles Times 12/07/05

The Christmas Conundrum The Christmas season may be a boom time for retailers and a joyous occasion for families, but it's become a giant headache for public schools. Vague court decisions and virulent disagreement over the extent to which religion must be kept out of schools have resulted in a patchwork of rules governing what is and is not allowed in a school's "holiday" concert and celebratory display. "Schools often fall into two camps: They quietly avoid religious songs in favor of more generic tunes such as Frosty the Snowman and Jingle Bells. Or they offer a sprinkling of songs from different religions and fill much of the concert with secular holiday songs." Arizona Republic 12/07/05

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Newspapers Waste Ink On TV, Pop Culture Newspapers are in a tizzy about declining circulation. But maybe part of what's wrong is that newspapers "drive readers away, either through clueless attempts to woo people who have no interest in newspapers at all, or by mocking community standards that most of its customers hold dear. Television and celebrity coverage is a waste. People who prefer television simply watch more television -- they don't and won't read papers. Why chase them?" Dallas Business Journal 12/06/05

Carnegie Hall, City Center Team Up New York's Carnegie Hall and City Center are forming a partnership "that will lead to a $150 million fund-raising effort to renovate City Center, and give Carnegie Hall's increasingly ambitious programmers access to a dance and theater space." The New York Times 12/06/05

Embattled Getty Expands Board The Getty Trust expands its board from 12 to 16. "The newcomers — Stewart A. Resnick, William E.B. Siart, Mark S. Siegel and Peter J. Taylor — bring a long list of financial and educational credentials at a time when critics have accused the trust's sitting board of inattention. But the newcomers' lack of arts expertise and diversity prompted board member Ramon Cortines to step down from his role on the board's nominating committee." Los Angeles Times 12/06/05

UK Arts Go Private UK arts are getting more funding from private sources. "A report released today by the charity Arts & Business reveals that private support for the arts has leapt from £393m to £452m in the last two years. However, there is concern within the industry that the figures could be seen by the government as an excuse to slash public arts subsidies." The Guardian (UK) 12/06/05

Monday, December 5, 2005

Kennedy Center Honors Actor Robert Redford, singers Tony Bennett and Tina Turner, the actress Julie Harris and the ballerina Suzanne Farrell were feted for this year's Kennedy Center Honors Sunday night.

Sunday, December 4, 2005

Battle For The Architectural Soul Of The South America's Gulf Coast is rebuilding. But a battle has broken out about what rebuilding will look like. "The idea that New Urbanists may be helping to write plans for the new Gulf Coast has horrified many architects and left-leaning cultural critics — revealing, in the process, quite a bit about the ambitions and anxieties that mark contemporary architectural practice in this country." Los Angeles Times 12/04/05

Friday, December 2, 2005

New York's Arts Ed Battle Arts education in New York City schools is still a spotty thing. The system suffers from "a lack of such facilities as art or dance studios, an inadequate supply of basic material and equipment such as musical instruments, and a shortage of arts teachers. Some 150 public schools –- more than one in ten -- still have no full-time arts teachers of any kind." Gotham Gazette 11/30/05

Thursday, December 1, 2005

Nothing About Artists Is Sexy (Don't Believe The Study) A study says artists have more sex? "Don't expect honesty from artists at any time. Massive delicate egos and a myopic view of reality don't make for any kind of study. The truth is that artists aren't that special. People just like to think so - especially artists. They don't deny it because the industry thrives on this very premise (and it makes them feel loved and important). It is the same argument all the time. They expect you to lead a rock'n'roll lifestyle, but the truth in my case could not be more different: a boring day in the studio, then home to wife and kids and the occasional clean-up-after-puppy-poo-athon." The Guardian (UK) 12/02/05

A Pakistani Festival Of Change In Pakistan, dancing was banned for many years, and some clerics would like to do the same to music. A new festival is changing things. "For Lahore, the 10-day festival was a huge, at times startling cultural event. The music ranged from pop to classical but the finest show was the pure Sufi night. Festival president Faizaan Peerzada runs an event that aims to transform Pakistani life. By promoting Sufi music he hopes to 'counter the extremism of the mullahs who use the mosques to spread ill-will against the west'." The Guardian (UK) 12/02/05

Art Of The Town A string of provincial pearls - including Paducah, Ky.; Rising Sun, Ind.; Fergus Falls, Minn.; and Cumberland, Md. - are banking on the arts for economic revival. "The eruption of these rural culture capitals also means more Americans can find original art to view or buy on a weekend or day trip. In recent years, surveys by the Travel Industry of America have called arts- and culture-based travel a strong and growing segment." Christian Science Monitor 12/02/05

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